Summary

​Recent agreements between world nations on climate change mitigation will result in mandatory requirements to reduce energy use by buildings by defining and implementing a the nearly Zero Energy Building (nZEB) standard. Achieving this will significantly reduce building energy use or enable buildings to make a positive energy contribution. Building facades form the interface between the internal and external environment and as such, they act as a key modulator between these two environments. therefore controlling the energy flows into or out of the building can potentially have a substantial influence on energy demand and building carbon emissions. In addition, they provide an opportunity for harnessing renewable energy to offset building energy use.

Recent advances have seen façade and glazing systems act as smart multifunction glazed components bringing together a range of properties such as excellent thermal insulation, energy harvesting and light transmission and energy storage. Traditional multi-pane insulating glazing systems, which use inert gases, warm edge spacers and low emissivity coatings have reached the limits achievable for thermal insulation performance. Further improvements have been shown to be achievable with the development of a Vacuum Insulated Glazing (VIG) using a narrow, evacuated cavity between the glass panes to minimise heat transmission. An evacuated cavity provides several opportunities for additional functionality for electrical/ thermal energy harvesting and coupled with a suitable energy storage system, has the potential make a positive contribution to the building energy needs.

For the successful development of these systems key issues to be investigated include development of a suitable seal technologies for the vacuum cavity which could accommodate mechanisms for the transport of electrical/ thermal energy to a storage system. Consideration should be given to the ability of the seal to withstand stresses due to large temperature differentials between the indoor and outdoor environments and those imposed by atmospheric pressure acting on the glass panes or due to other significant impacts. The mechanisms to be used for solar energy harvesting will require investigation together with how the harvested energy may be transported and used within the building or options for energy storage within the building to be used during periods without generation. The additional functionality of the vacuum insulated glazing may be considered to include the use novel materials or coatings for light/energy control.

The proposed facade systems would have applications for a range of climates and would ideally be applicable for both new and existing buildings including those where the architectural merit of the building must be maintained.  Areas such as weight reduction, ease of installation and integration (particularly for building retrofitting), and light transmission while meeting the building standards and conservation considerations for heritage buildings are essential considerations for new products and systems. ​The developed glazing/façade system performance will be fully characterised using a solar simulator, hot box calorimetry with potential evaluation under real environmental conditions through inclusion in demonstration test sites in Europe.


Essential criteria

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study.

We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.

  • Clearly defined research proposal detailing background, research questions, aims and methodology

Funding and eligibility

The University offers the following levels of support:

Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,840 (tbc) maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £8,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Department for the Economy (DFE)

The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,840 (tbc) per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

  • Candidates with pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, who also satisfy a three year residency requirement in the UK prior to the start of the course for which a Studentship is held MAY receive a Studentship covering fees and maintenance.
  • Republic of Ireland (ROI) nationals who satisfy three years’ residency in the UK prior to the start of the course MAY receive a Studentship covering fees and maintenance (ROI nationals don’t need to have pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme to qualify).
  • Other non-ROI EU applicants are ‘International’ are not eligible for this source of funding.
  • Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Due consideration should be given to financing your studies. Further information on cost of living


Recommended reading

​F. Arya, R. Moss, T. Hyde, S. Shire, P. Henshall and P. Eames, “Vacuum enclosures for solar thermal panels Part 1: Fabrication and hot-box testing,” Solar Energy 174, pp. 1212-1223, 2018.

H. ALi, N. Hayat, F. Farukh, S. Imran, M. S. Kamran and H. M. Ali, “Key design features of multi vacuum glazing for windows: A review.,” Thermal Science, 2016. AGC Glass Europe, AGC Glass Europe, [Online]. Available: https://www.agc-glass.eu/en/news/press-release/agc-glass-europe-invests-vacuum-glazing-very-high-insulation-performance

A. Ghosh and B. Norton, “Advances in switchable and highly insulating autonomous (self-powered) glazing systems for adaptive low energy buildings.,” Renewable Energy 126, pp. 1003-1031, 2018.

C. Qiu, H. Yang and H. Sun, “Investigation on the thermal performance of a novel vacuum PV glazing in different climates.,” Energy Procedia 158, pp. 706-711, 2019.

R. Moss, S. Shire, P. Henshall, F. Arya, P. Eames and T. Hyde, “Performance of evacuated flat plate solar thermal collectors,” Thermal Science and Engineering Progress 8, pp. 296-306, 2018.

A. Ghosh, S. Sundaram and T. K. Mallick, “Investigation of thermal and electrical performances of a combined semi-transparent PV-vacuum glazing.,” Applied Energy 228, pp. 1591-1600, 2018. ​

CERN , “CERN’s Ultra High Vacuum Flat Plate Solar Collector (UHVFPC) (UHVFPC) Markets and Applications,” CERN, [Online]. Available: https://www.solarthermalworld.org/sites/default/files/CERN.pdf


The Doctoral College at Ulster University


Reviews

I had an interesting time at Ulster University, Jordanstown. Many thanks to all the lecturers, library staff and research school for their time and effort getting me through my PhD!

Philip Bradley - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

My primary research interests focus on sustainable construction materials for the delivery of environmentally responsible building and infrastructure systems. Within that field, I am particularly interested in the combination of geopolymer binders and recycled aggregates as construction materials with a balance among technical, environmental and economic factors.I would like to express my appreciation to my supervisors and the technicians/staffs at School of Built Environment, for their consistent support, valuable feedback, attention to details, patience and encouragement during my PhD course.

An Huynh - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

This journey is quite a challenge for me. I am proud of me finally getting through my PhD. And I’ll never forget the valuable memories that Ulster University has given me, the people, the beautiful sceneries, the happiness, the language improvement, and the hard work. ​​I would like to express my sincere thank you to my supervisors, my colleagues, my friends and my family. I couldn't have got through my PhD without your help and support. I know that you will continue to pay attention to my growth path in the future and be happy with my achievements. So, I’ll take all the knowledge I have learned and keep on working for a better future.​

Shurui Wang - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

My proudest moment was when I was accepted to pursue my PhD in Ulster University. My favourite memory was how I met my group of friends who also pursue their dreams in this foreign country. I'll never forget the tough times I underwent during my study, but thanks to those times that I finally managed to lose weight. I couldn't have got through this without my supervisors' support, kind encouragement and firmest trust. If I could speak to myself at the start of my PhD, the best piece of advice I would give myself would be - do not procrastinate, you gotta learn to move forward in life when you feel stuck.

Mengmeng Dou - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

I came to Ulster University to challenge myself with a PhD study under Vice-Chancellor's Research Studentship at the Centre for Sustainable Technologies in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning. My supervisors helped me much from giving valuable guidance to supporting any difficulties, which makes me feel that I am the luckiest student.I would like to take this opportunity to thank my supervisors, family, friends and colleagues for supporting me tirelessly. Without you, I couldn't have got through my PhD with some great achievements:Best PhD Research Paper in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning, Ulster UniversityBest Student Paper Award at the conference of World Congress on Engineering and Computer Science 2017, San Francisco, USA.Student Registration Grant for demonstrating academic excellence in research at 17th International Conference on Sustainable Technologies (SET 2018), China.

Khoa Xuan Le - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

My academic background includes a MSc in Process Safety Technology, in which my topic of thesis involved the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier. This prompted me to further my knowledge in this field by embarking on a PhD at the HySAFER institute at Ulster University. Here, I conducted research on the consequences of stored hydrogen tank rupture in confined space, with the use of computational fluid dynamics.My proudest moment in all of this was informing my parents, not only for being accepted as a PhD researcher at Ulster University, but also after three years that it was indeed completed. It goes without saying that without the guidance and support from my supervisors, the companionship created by my fellow colleagues with whom I shared an office with, and the people otherwise encountered and befriended during this period, the light at the end of the tunnel of it all would have rather been a train. And for that, I will be forever grateful and all the attained memories preserved

Wulme Dery - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

I worked for 35 years for the Housing Executive - latterly as its Head of Research. I had completed an MSc in Urban Policy in the 2000s - and it had been a longstanding ambition of mine to complete a PhD that brought together a number of strands of policy-related research that had been of particular interest to me. Undertaking a PhD at Ulster University allowed me to fulfil this ambition in an enjoyable manner.Completing my PhD has brought me an immense amount of personal satisfaction. A major part of this was down to the incredible support I received from my two supervisors Professor Stanley McGreal and Dr Michael McCord. Their ongoing advice, encouragement and support helped take me outside my comfort zone and played a major part in my achievement. Even my viva proved to be an enjoyable experience and enabled me to feel that I had gained a level of expertise in a sphere that could make a small but significant contribution to addressing some of the key housing issues facing policy

Joe Frey - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

I am a senior researcher at Korea Fire Institute which is a state-owned company specialised at fire safety engineering in the Republic of Korea. I obtained BSc and MSc in mechanical engineering. Prior to enter a PhD course at the School of the Built Environment in Ulster University, I worked for over a decade in the engineering industry. With relation to my PhD topic, my current research field is on fire safety using experimental and numerical approaches.Finally, I finished my study in Ulster University and became a Doctor of Philosophy in a field of fire safety!! There were a lot of good memories at Ulster University. I will never forget the rainbow on the Jordanstown campus which helps me to relieve my stress caused by stuck in concrete damaged plasticity theory. I felt great when receiving an annual PhD conference award as the best poster. I was excited to spent time with my officemates, Rumeel, and Emmanuel. I love every moment at Room 4B01 because it was a time to enhance my

Ohk Kun Lim - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

I am a Swiss citizen, grew up in Papua New Guinea and graduated from Ukarumpa International Schools. I was trained and certified as a Swiss cabinetmaker and hold a Swiss diploma in electrical engineering from the Bern University of applied Science. In the past ten years I have been employed at Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology and have performed research in the field of energy conversion and storage. Research activities include; Alkali water electrolysis, metal hydride hydrogen storage, PEM fuel cell and stack development, catalytic oxidation of hydrogen for high temperature heat (cooking), energy systems for autarky living and liquid sorption heat storage. I lead the subtask Components and Systems of the IEA, SHC Program, Task 58 ‘Material and Component Development for Thermal Energy Storage’ and have performed a part time external PhD at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment in the development of a heat and mass

Benjamin Fumey - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

I studied my Integrated Masters (MSci) at Jordanstown from 2008-2012. After a few years working as an Estate Agent, I went back to academia to complete my PhD, looking at the broad area of health within the field of planning.Many PhDs are given a topic to begin with, however when I applied for the PhD scholarship I had to create my own research topic. This took me a while to establish, but eventually my hard work paid off and I narrowed my research into an area I am truly proud of - Active living, how the built environment can influence physical activity and how this was interpreted in the domains listed in my thesis title. My favourite aspect of the PhD was presenting my research and getting the acknowledgment from other academics that my research was interesting, robust and well thought out. I submitted an abstract to AESOP, an annual planning conference, and was given the opportunity to present my work in Venice. I also presented my work to the president of RTPI. There is nothing

Owen Hawe - PhD in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning